A military coup in June 1908, led by the so-called Young Turks, had stripped Sultan Abdul Hamid II of his power, reconstituting the parliament and constitution the Sultan had suspended three decades earlier. The Sultan, however, had maintained his symbolic position, and in March 1909 attempted to seize power once more by stirring populist sentiment throughout the Empire. Because the coup was an attempt to undermine the Young Turk Revolution of 1908, it became known as the Countercoup.
On April 13, 1909, Abdul Hamid II was finally deposed. His brother Mehmed V would ultimately take his place as Sultan, the position once more reduced to mere symbolic significance.
The 1908 parliament lacked coherency, least of all on the nature and unity of the organization of the Ottoman Empire. While the Young Turk Revolution had promised organizational improvement, once instituted, the government at first proved itself rather disorganized and ineffectual, tempting a coup in April 1909.
Army units revolted, joined by masses of theological students and turbaned clerics shouting, "We want Sharia", and moving to restore the Sultan's absolute power. The Sultan in turn promised to bring about the rule of religion, were he to be returned to power. The Countercoup culminated in the 31 March Incident, and the exile of Abdul Hamid II.
The policies of the Committee of Union and Progress aimed at controlling the conservatives were perceived as silencing the cause of independence and liberty by discriminating against religion. Under the multi-religious "balancing policies", the Committee of Union and Progress believed it could achieve a "Turkification" of all the Arab subjects of the Empire. These measures stirred nationalist sentiment and a desire for independence and freedom among the Arab population, further cementing a national sensibility resistant to a conservative Islam.