The country of Switzerland has famously stayed neutral throughout every major international conflict since 1815.
But don’t think for a second the Swiss are pushovers. Just ask Nancy Holten.
Holten, 42, has lived in Switzerland for most of her life, although she was born in Netherlands. She even has three children, who are all Swiss citizens and live with her in the small town of Gipf-Oberfrick, per CNN.
Holten has twice applied for a Swiss passport, which would make her an official citizen of Switzerland. However, in Switzerland, citizenship is not based off a nationwide test like it is in the United States. It’s decided on the local level, and the local committee takes into account feedback from the people in the area, according to The Atlantic.
And therein lies the catch when it comes to Holten’s passport application — her neighbors don’t seem to like her, at all.
That’s because Holten is one of a small percentage of Swiss residents who are vegan, and she is extremely passionate about animal rights issues, according to Yahoo News. In particular, she has repeatedly protested the local tradition of placing heavy cowbells around the necks of cows in the region, arguing that their weight and size make them uncomfortable for the animals, per the Daily Mail.
“The sound that cow bells make is a hundred decibel. It is comparable with a pneumatic drill. We also would not want such a thing hanging close to our ears,” she told the Daily Mail.
“The animals carry around five kilograms around their neck. It causes friction and burns to their skin.”
Holten has also protested local traditions such as pig racing, bell ringing and hunting.
In order to become a Swiss citizen, an applicant must be “integrated in the Swiss way of life” and “familiar with Swiss customs and traditions,” according to Switzerland’s immigration website.
It is on those grounds that the locals rejected her application. In particular, the council who rejected her cited how vocal she was in protesting to the media about local traditions.
Holten is “a person who sets themselves against so many of Switzerland's shared values, practices and traditions, and does this in person, directly and above all, loudly, in the press,” the council’s spokesperson told CNN.
But she does not plan to stop protesting in order to obtain citizenship, she told CNN.
“Gipf-Oberfrick is rural and there are farmers and conservative residents here. They aren't used to green topics being discussed so openly," Holten told CNN. "As a vegan, I campaign publicly for animals. That annoys a lot of people.
“It also bothers them that I've been (and continue to be) in the media so much. I do this in order to make people think more about the issue of animal protection. That's my wish.”
Her previous application in 2015 was also denied. Holten has appealed the latest decision to the government of the canton of Aargau, in which Gipf-Oberfrick is located, per Yahoo. Because none of the local or municipal officials opposed her application, she expects to win the appeal, she told CNN.
Ironically enough, the country of Switzerland is actually considered one of the best in the world when it comes to protecting the rights of animals, according to World Animal Protection. The Swiss earned an “A” grade for animal protection from the organization, one of only four countries in the world to receive top marks.