Nobel Peace Prize winner and South Africa's last apartheid President F.W. de Klerk has criticized a campaign to remove a statue of British colonialist Cecil John Rhodes as "folly."

In a letter to the British newspaper, The Times, de Klerk said it is "regrettable" the campaign that began at South Africa's University of Cape Town spread to Oxford University. De Klerk said other prominent leaders like George Washington would also not withstand the same political scrutiny today.

Oxford's Oriel College said it is reviewing whether to leave the statue in place after receiving a petition from the Rhodes Must Fall movement.

Historians describe Rhodes, who attended Oxford, as a 19th century segregationist. He is also remembered as a philanthropist, who left some of his estate to the university.