The tombs in the courtyard of Ali Pasha's Mosque

In the northeast corner of the courtyard of Ali Pasha's Mosque are two sarcophagi with headstones that bear the names of the deceased in Arabic and Cyrillic.

This is the final resting place for Avdo Sumbul (1884-1915) and Behdžet Mutevelić (1892-1915). The former was a secretary and the latter was an activist with Gajret, a Muslim cultural-historical society founded in 1903.

Gajret was primarily active in awarding stipends to Muslim students at high schools and universities in BiH and countries under the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy.

The founders of Gajret included famous Muslim intellectuals and founders of the journal, Behar: Edhem Mulabdić, Osman Nuri Hadžić and Safvet-beg Bašagić, who was president of the society until 1907.

The unification of the South Slavs

The early 20th century was awash with ideas about freedom and the unification of the South Slavs. Since the Kingdom of Serbia was the most influential independent South Slavic state at that time, it asserted the opinion among those struggling for unity that they should seek out the patronage of the Serbian royal dynasty.

Avdo Sumbul and Behdžet Mutevelić were spirited adherents of this idea.

When Gavrilo Princip assassinated Franz Ferdinand and his wife, Sophie, in front of what is now the home of the Museum Sarajevo 1878-1918 on June 28, 1914 (Vidovdan), Austro-Hungarian authorities responded swiftly and brutally.

Those who had participated in the assassination were the first to be arrested, followed by nearly all who supported the unification of South Slavs or were suspected of doing so.

Avdo Sumbul and Behdžet Mutevelić, as well as thousands of other BiH civilians and, later, members of the Serbian military, were locked up in Arad Fortress in present-day Romania.

Arad’s dungeons

In the years to follow, the lives of more than 4,000 prisoners were cut short in Arad’s dungeons, either due to illness or the cruelty of the prison guards.

Avdo Sumbul and Behdžet Mutevelić died in 1915.

At the end of WWI, with the creation of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, authorities honored the lives of those who gave their lives at “the altar of the idea of liberation and unification of the South Slavs.”

The famous architect, Aleksandar Derok, designed the Chapel of the Vidovdan Heroes, which was built in the Orthodox Cemetery of Archangel Michael on Koševo. It was here that participants in the Sarajevo Assassination, who had been members of Mlada Bosna, were buried.

In honor of the 25 years that had passed since Gajret’s founding, the remains of Avdo Sumbul and Behdžet Mutevelić – two Muslims from BiH who had dreamt of unity among South Slavs – were moved to the courtyard of Ali Pasha’s Mosque, where they were entombed.

There are two streets in Sarajevo that are named after these men: Avde Sumbula St. in Bjelave and Behdžeta Mutevelića St. in Grbavica.