DOHA, Qatar (AP) -- Syria's main opposition group in exile elected a left-wing veteran dissident born into a Christian family as its new president on Friday, a choice that could help counter Western concerns about possible Islamist influence over the group.

George Sabra, a Communist-turned-social-democrat and former high school teacher who once wrote for the Arabic version of Sesame Street, said his election as head of the Syrian National Council is proof that Syrians are not beholden to sectarianism.