THOUSANDS of people have signed an online petition to stop the controversial statue of Cecil Rhodes from being taken down at Oriel College.

The statue of Rhodes, a 19th century imperialist linked to the slave trade, has been shrouded in controversy for years.

It is set to be removed by the summer and placed in a museum, after governors of Oriel College voted to take it down - reversing a decision they made in 2016.

But an online petition has been set up opposing the removal, saying it should remain in place as an historical reminder.

READ ALSO: A timeline of the protests around the Cecil Rhodes statue

Greg Everest, who started the petition, said: "Cecil Rhodes is an historical figure with world wide significance. We must keep our history, British history, in order to learn from it regardless of political feelings and persuasions.

"If we continue down the road of removing statues of people who we feel no longer fit today's morality we will have to remove 90 per cent of British monuments along with our Kings and Queens.

"Oxford University is a place of education. Cecil established the Rhodes Scholarship at Oxford, it was established in 1902, and soon became the most famous of numerous international scholarship programs.

"Cecil Rhodes wanted to promote unity between English-speaking nations and instil a sense of civic-minded leadership and moral fortitude in future leaders irrespective of their chosen career paths.We must keep the statue to remember and recognise Cecil's contribution to education."

READ ALSO: 'Get him down': Locals react to Cecil Rhodes statue removal

The petition now has more than 3,590 signatures and hundreds of comments have been left on the page in support.

'Part of history'

James Clare commented: "We should ensure we're properly educated about history, not try and erase it through the removal of monuments and desecration of architecture."

Laurence Griffiths commented: "Whether you like him or not, Cecil John Rhodes is part of history.

"We should remember both the good and the bad of history, so that we can both repeat the good things and not make the same mistakes."

Robert Jenrick, the communities secretary, wants to protect monuments by law but some academics believe if Rhodes falls every other controversial statue will follow.

A long-running campaign gained renewed attention in June after a statue of 17th century slave trader Edward Colston was thrown in a dock in Bristol by Black Lives Matter protesters.


Campaign group Rhodes Must Fall picked up momentum with a number of protests held in Oxford city centre in the summer.

Our readers have also expressed their views about the statue.

Des Brambley said: “It’s still possible to read and learn about history though. The statue has no accompanying information with it so it doesn’t actually add to the history of the man.

"You realise Germany destroyed every Nazi statue and people still know about their history in Germany. It’s hysterical to claim this is removing history.”

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