A leftist, pro-Arab, secular opposition figure, George Sabra has been politically active in the opposition since the 1970s. Sabra joined the Syrian Communist Party (Political Bureau) in 1970 and was elected to its Central Committee in 1985. He was arrested in 1987 during one of many government crackdowns on the party and imprisoned for eight years. A few years after his release, in 2000, he was assigned to represent his party in the National Democratic Assembly, a coalition of leftist parties that was originally formed in 1979, and he was subsequently elected to the assembly’s Central Committee.
Sabra was a co-founder of the Damascus Declaration opposition coalition in 2005, and in the same year, the Syrian Communist Party (Political Bureau) changed its name to the Syrian Democratic People’s Party. He remained in Syria after the uprising began in March 2011 and was imprisoned in July for two months on charges of inciting dissent. In October, he went into exile in order to escape rearrest and joined the Syrian National Council as the representative of the Democratic People’s Party. Sabra presented himself as a candidate when the term of Syrian National Council chairman Burhan Ghalioun ended in May 2012, but he lost the nomination to Abdul Basit Sida.
Sabra initially failed to win a seat in the new 41-member general secretariat that was elected at the SNC conference on November 8, reportedly due to a technicality, but the grassroots Revolutionary Movement relinquished one of its two seats to bring him into the body and he subsequently defeated rival candidate Hisham Mroue to become the new chairman of the Syrian National Council.
Born to a Christian family in Qatana in the Rif Damascus governorate, Sabra graduated with a geography degree from Damascus University in 1971 and a degree in educational technology systems from the University of Indiana in 1978. He worked as a teacher and participated in the production of a TV program for children, in addition to writing books for children.