Although demonstrations began in Tunis and other cities on Thursday, Friday was the main day of protest, thousands filling main streets and squares downtown. In the capital, the US Embassy closed its doors, explaining via a Security Message on its official website that « due to protests occuring in Tunisia focused on the United States, the US Embassy will be closing early on Friday, December 8, 2017 ».

On Friday afternoon, hundreds showed up at Mohamed Ali square where the Tunisian General Labor Union (UGTT) had called for citizens to gather before marching out to the capital’s main artery of public protest, Avenue Bourguiba. By 3pm, office buildings and classrooms emptied out as working adults but also school children and the elderly made their way onto downtown, blocking road traffic along the way. Even the tramway was held up between stations, its passengers a captive audience to the stampede of marchers carrying posters of the Dome of the Rock and waving Palestinian flags.

A sea of demonstrators remained at Mohamed Ali square where « Jerusalem, flower of cities » played over the buzz and chants of the crowd. Inside the UGTT building, Noureddine Taboubi, the Union’s Secretary-General spoke to Nawaat about the freedom of Palestine as a cause of fundamental importance for the Trade Union. « Before blaming others, we blame ourselves », said Taboubi, who denounced the « normalization of zionism » and urged politicians and the International Trade Union Confederation of to « assume their responsibility in the Palestinian cause and in this injustice against the Arab people ». According to Taboubi, the UGTT will be reaching out to union affiliates and activists worldwide to take action, and plans to address a letter to US ambassador for Tunisia, David Rubinstein.

Towards the end of the Avenue where Bourguiba’s statue stands high above foot traffic, the Tunisian Order of Lawyers stood behind their banner: « Long live a free and dignified Palestine ». Lawyer Ahmed Ben Hamdane stepped away from his colleagues, explaining how the demonstrations were nothing out of the ordinary, and represents an « intifada for Jerusalem, for the questions of freedom in the Arab world, of justice. The identity of Jerusalem is connected to its history, civilization… and Arab people are standing up since Trump’s decision ». According to Ben Hamdane, all Tunisian politicians and activists, regardless of their political differences, are agreed on the need for a « law criminalizing the normalization of zionism » and that the Order will be putting « pressure on the legislative and executive power, the government and president » to adopt such a measure.

In the early evening, the main march broke off into several large groups scattered along the length of Avenue Mohamed V. There we found Samir Dilou, parliamentary deputy for the Ennahda bloc and former Minister of Human Rights and Transitional Justice. « What we expect from Tunisian diplomacy », began Dilou, « is that it be at the level of what’s taking place on the street. We know how sensitive international relations are, but it’s vital that Tunisia’s official position be up to par. The stakes are without precedent ». He too evoked the urgency of passing a new law, indicating that although people may have once been uncomfortable with criminalizing the normalization of zionism, this is no longer the case since president Trump’s declaration. The adoption of such legislation doesn’t require months in parliament, he argued, but can take place almost immediately—« a matter of days, a few weeks at the most ».

Protests in Tunis as well as other cities throughout the country are likely to continue, as political parties and others who were not present at Friday’s demonstrations have promised to turn out on the streets to denounce President Trump’s decision.