Erasmus wanted to make better persons of people. In his Praise of Folly, Erasmus therefore ridiculed the whole of mankind. Eight photographers from Rotterdam show that mankind hasn’t changed a bit in all the hundreds of years that have passed since then. This is part eight of eight: Lou Muuse.

The famous thinker Desiderius Erasmus (whose 550th birth date we celebrate this year in Rotterdam) was quite critical about the behaviour of his fellow man. In his writings, he wanted to put people back on the right track again. He drew on the mental legacy of the Greek and Roman classics. His most stinging critique on society is in his satiric book Praise of Folly. A very smart book: by commenting through Folly, instead of writing on his own account, he could express himself much more fully.

About five hundred years later, eight photographers from Rotterdam pick up where Erasmus’ Praise of Folly left off. For you better believe it: folly is still amongst us.

Religious tolerance

Religion is the most important aspect of life for Erasmus. Still, he believes that everybody has the right to believe what he or she wants without being persecuted. Every person is responsible for his or her own belief and should be allowed to interpret it in their own way. Erasmus’ tolerance did have boundaries though: it did not include the Muslim Faith.

“I will bear the church, until I find another one, a better one”

Erasmussian adagium

At the same time, through his alter ego in Praise of Folly, Erasmus criticizes the everyday church and people’s superficial worries about outward appearances. As a photographer, Lou Muuse wants us to try to deepen our knowledge of each other. Many people have opinions about others, without knowing them or knowing who they are talking about. We could try to understand each other better. This is the idea behind Muuse’s project to photograph people of Islamic Faith in her own neighborhood, the Zwart Janstraat. Meet the bookstore, the take-away, the bridal shop and the butcher.


Image credit: Lou Muuse

This Arabian bookstore, IBN Baaz bookstore, was established at the end of 2015. It sells books in Arabic, English and Dutch. The book wall on the left contains Arabic books about religion, traditions and biographies. These books explain the Acts and statements from the Koran. At the top shelves are anthologies of learned teachers. One title often contains dozens of books. None of these  are from the Netherlands, but usually from the Arabic Emirates, Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

Take away


Chicken Spot started at the beginning of 2015. They recently started a delivery service, before that, burgers and wraps were eaten in the shop or taken home. Most customers are people of Muslim belief, therefore the shop has special opening hours during Ramadan. For other customers they still open the shop at around 18:00. Muslim customers mostly eat beef burgers: halal burgers are hard to get. The chicken burgers are also a great success.

Bridal shop


Ilif Fashion sells ceremonial dresses and wedding gowns. With low necklines or fully covering the body with long sleeves and high necklines. The shop has customers from many different cultures. For Turkish weddings, there are the traditional white wedding gowns; the bride wears a red ribbon or a red veil, it symbolizes virginity. The large coloured dresses are for the Henna celebrations that take place a day before the wedding and that symbolize departure.



Topuz Supermarket is a halal butcher. The customers are from all over the world. One reason for this diversity is that the shop is in the same building as supermarkets like Aldi and Albert Heijn. They mostly sell lamb and calf.

A co-operation between Erasmus Magazine and Vers Beton.

In 2016 Rotterdam celebrates the 550th birth date of the Dutch humanist Desiderius Erasmus Roterodamus. In this series, Vers Beton explores the meaning of Erasmus’ thinking for the city of Rotterdam, The Netherlands. Vers Beton is a journal for people in Rotterdam who like to reflect on their city.

This series has been made possible by a financial contribution by the city of Rotterdam.

This piece was published earlier in Dutch in the online magazine Vers Beton.

Translation: Melissa van Amerongen.