Afghan version of 'Be Like Bill' makes online splash

An Afghan iteration of the popular “Be Like Bill” Internet meme has gone viral online

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An Afghan iteration of the popular “Be Like Bill” Internet meme has gone viral online, with its Facebook posts extolling good Samaritan deeds resonating widely with the war-torn country’s youth.

“Be Like Qodos” has attracted more than 66,000 likes on its Dari Facebook page in over two weeks, a sizeable number in a country where few have access to the Internet.

Qodos, a fictional name for a model Afghan citizen, takes a self-righteous stand on a variety of social ills – from corruption to street harassment of women.

“Qodos sees a woman driving. Qodos does his own work and does not stare at the woman,” reads one post.

“Qodos is a nice person, be like Qodos,” it adds, highlighting the endemic sexual harassment of women.

In another post, it takes a swipe at rampant graft, arguably the single biggest challenge confronting the troubled country rebuilding itself after decades of war.

“Qodos does not pay or receive bribe. He respects the law. Qodos is smart. Be like Qodos,” it says.

Corruption permeates nearly every public institution in Afghanistan, hobbling development despite billions of dollars of foreign aid, and fuelling insecurity as alienated Afghans veer towards the Taliban.

“Be like Qodos” touches on other controversial issues such as the growing wave of Afghan migrants undertaking dangerous voyages to Europe in the face of worsening security and unemployment.

Afghans were the second largest group of migrants arriving in Europe last year – and official pleas have so far failed to stop the exodus.

“Qodos is not considering going to Europe. Qodos is happy living in his country. Qodos is smart. Be like Qodos,” said a post that received thousands of likes.

The messages, though simple, are drawing widespread praise.

“If we had 10 people like Qodos in the government, Afghanistan would be a prosperous country,” wrote one Facebook user.

Another urged President Ashraf Ghani and other officials in his widely unpopular government to emulate Qodos.

The administrator of the Facebook page, who identified himself as a “young male student”, told AFP he was overwhelmed by the response.

“I have seen this society suffer immensely because of corruption and other social ills,” he said.

“This society needs role models like Qodos.”

But he said he feared making his identity public in case his posts draw any negative repercussions.

Afghanistan’s spy agency last year rounded up journalists suspected of running “Kabul Taxi”, a satirical Facebook page that lampooned high-profile politicians, warlords and bureaucrats.

The crackdown raised concerns over free speech in Afghanistan, which ranks as low as 122 out of 180 in the World Press Freedom Index compiled by Reporters Without Borders.