Organizers of a federal pilot program designed to root out homegrown extremists are looking to lessons learned in Europe, where government programs to confront radicalization have been in place for years but continue to generate debate.

Boston's version of the Countering Violent Extremism program brought in experts Tuesday to discuss efforts in the United Kingdom and Germany that have brought youths and others vulnerable to extremist ideology into family counseling before they could take violent action in their community or join the Islamic State or other militant groups waging jihad in the Middle East and elsewhere.

But Muslim activists attending the event at Suffolk University Law School questioned the science behind the overseas efforts and argued that trying to identify possible extremists based on their comments or actions would trample on free speech and other basic American civil rights.

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